Laboratory Decommissioning

This standard outlines procedures to ensure that laboratory/studio space is reassigned according to health, safety and environment regulations and standards. Prior to a laboratory being reassigned, renovated or demolished it shall be cleared of any unnecessary biological, chemical, radioactive or physical hazards.


  • Laboratory supervisors are responsible for vacating a laboratory according to this standard.
  • Laboratory supervisors are responsible for any costs related to vacating a laboratory including hazardous materials identified and/or removed to the Environmental Safety Facility ( and the decontamination of equipment and facilities unless their department has agreed to an alternate cost arrangement.
  • The Safety Office shall provide advice about hazardous materials disposal and the decontamination of equipment and facilities. Where a laboratory supervisor has not addressed the requirements of this standard, the laboratory supervisor’s department shall have the conditions rectified.
  • The Safety Office shall be consulted about the transfer of any hazardous materials and related equipment from the University of Waterloo.
  • Laboratories shall not be assigned to a new laboratory supervisor for use, or to a contractor until inspected by a department chair, administrative head or designate using UW’s Laboratory Decommissioning Form. In the event that the laboratory is not immediately re-assigned to a specific researcher, the department will sign-off as the incoming researcher and when the space is eventually re-assigned, the department will sign-off as the outgoing occupant. All decommissioning forms need to be submitted to the Safety Office as space is re-assigned.

Guidelines for vacating laboratories

  • The lab should be clean, tidy, and free of combustible materials.
  • Chemical containers need to be properly identified, labeled, and sealed.
  • Laboratory glassware should be empty and cleaned.
  • Autoclaves, ovens, refrigerators, freezers, incubators, fume hoods, and storage cabinets need to be cleaned-out and decontaminated.
  • Clean lab bench tops and fume hood work surfaces (washed down).
  • Return compressed gas cylinders to the supplier(s).
  • Dispose of unused hazardous consumer products as hazardous waste (e.g. cleaning solvents, paints, thinners, oils, pesticides, etc.).
  • Dispose of hazardous waste through the Environmental Safety Facility (ESC ext 35755).
  • Remove signs, posters, and non-University property.
  • Leave documents or statements with department director/chair for any equipment or materials that the department has agreed to have remain in the laboratory (e.g. Safety Data Sheets (SDS), services manuals, inventory, etc.).
  • Fill out the lab decommissioning form and submit one copy to the Safety Office and retain a copy in the departmental.